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A New Kind of Three-Wheeled Thriller

Yamaha Niken 2019 is promoted as a Revolutionary Leaning Multi-Wheeler

Ujjwal Dey



Yamaha NIKEN is a one of its kind product, which was officially unveiled at 2017 Tokyo Moto Show. It is a totally new concept in the motorcycle industry with unique carving abilities. NIKEN is a Leaning Multi-Wheeler powered by a 3-cylinder 847cc engine which is good for 115 HP of maximum power and 87.5 NM of maximum torque.

Niken allows everything you want to do with a motorcycle on the road with the dexterity of three wheels and a unique advance leaning technology. Key highlights are:

    § Unique corner carving abilities,

    § Advanced leaning multi-wheel technology,

    § Deep lean angle (maximum 45 degrees),

    § Ackerman steering,

    § double upside down front forks,

    § Around 50:50 weight distribution with rider,

    § Fully adjustable rear suspension,

    § A&S clutch,

    § D-MODE,

    § Cruise Control


Yamaha has unveiled a production version of the MT-09 based leaning three-wheeler concept at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, calling the production model, the Yamaha Niken.

The Yamaha Niken is based on the MT-09, and shares the same three-cylinder motor, but it's the first leaning production three-wheeled motorcycle of its type. Yamaha has not revealed too many details and specifications at Tokyo about the Niken, and more features were released at EICMA show in Milan, Italy. The only clear specification released so far is that the Niken uses a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, four-stroke, DOHC, four-valve, in-line triple engine. The three-cylinder engine without question is the 847 cc triple from the Yamaha MT-09.

In a press release on the Niken, Yamaha said: "This large-displacement Leaning Multi-Wheeler (LMW) is powered by a liquid-cooled, in-line, three-cylinder engine. This model is equipped with LMW technology to reduce the effects of changing ride environments and to deliver a high feeling of stability when cornering.

It achieves excellent performance for spirited and sporty riding on various road surfaces and the capability to freely carve through the continuous corners on winding roads. The body design makes full use of the unprecedented front-end suspension mechanism, pairing 15-inch front wheels with dual-tube upside-down forks that visually accentuate the machine's sporty performance and create a high-quality look and feel at the same time.


Their tagline is: New Yamaha NIKEN. Ride the Revolution."

The fact that Yamaha has chosen to reveal few more details and specifications about the Niken confirms that the leaning three-wheeled motorcycle will only be released as a 2018 model, and will possibly go on sale next summer. So far, Yamaha has not commented on the price and other details; and has only released the dimensions of the Niken, which is 2150 mm long, 885 mm wide, 1250 mm tall, and uses a triple-cylinder engine. Other technical information was showcased at the EICMA show in Milan.

Revolutionary Leaning Multi-Wheel Chassis

The NIKEN™ LMW chassis is an exclusive motorcycle control system that provides unparalleled rider confidence across a wide range of road conditions. With two front tires leaning in unison, the NIKEN doubles the amount of available grip for exceptional stopping power, cornering confidence, rider comfort and impeccable road manners—all while maintaining natural steering feel.

Radical Styling

NIKEN doesn’t look like anything on the road because it isn’t like anything else on the road. Graceful curves highlight the mass-forward design to show off the unique LMW system, combining futuristic technology with flowing, organic style.

Powerful Inline-Triple

Derived from the award-winning MT-09™, the advanced CP3® inline 3-cylinder motor uses Yamaha’s full range of performance technology to produce exceptional torque with linear power delivery. This results in a flexible, responsive powerplant that combines the best aspects of both 2- and 4-cylinder motors while remaining light, slim and compact.

Advanced Rider Aids

NIKEN features a complete range of technologies to boost rider confidence and performance, including Yamaha’s ride-by-wire throttle system, adjustable throttle mapping, traction control and ABS. Riders also enjoy the convenience of a factory quick shifter and integrated cruise control.


Advanced 3-Cylinder Engine

Derived from the award-winning MT-09, the NIKEN features a thrilling 847cc liquid-cooled inline 3-cylinder motor packing a range of advanced technologies. With DOHC heads, an oversquare 78mm x 59.1mm bore and stroke and 11.5:1 compression ratio, NIKEN delivers an exciting, torquey character, refined with additional crankshaft inertia for smooth starts.

Crossplane Concept CP3 Engine

By utilizing the naturally smooth firing order and power characteristics of the 3-cylinder motor, Yamaha’s CP3 engine produces extremely linear torque with an excellent feeling of connection between the throttle grip and engine. To boost refinement and improve rider and passenger comfort, the motor features a geared counterbalancer to minimize engine vibration. This results in a responsive powerplant that combines the best aspects of both 2- and 4-cylinder motors while still light, slim and compact.

Advanced Yamaha Engine Technology

The CP3 engine uses forged ‘fracture-split’ connecting rods, where the big-end ring of a connecting rod is split in two to create a more precise mating surface when they are bolted together again around the crankshaft. The cylinder block is offset towards the front wheel, to reduce piston force against the cylinder walls, improving efficiency. And the cylinder bores are plated with a ceramic composite for excellent durability and heat transfer.

Unique Staggered Intake Funnels

To provide a broad spread of torque and a unique intake sound, the airbox intake funnels have been designed with three uneven lengths. This combines with the fuel injection system and cylinder head design to deliver a torquey, flexible engine character.

Assist and Slipper Clutch

Yamaha’s assist and slipper clutch gives the rider smoother, more confident downshifts when entering corners aggressively, as well as a lighter pull effort at the lever in day-to-day riding, all while easily handling the torque of the NIKEN's high-output motor.


Compact 6-Speed Transmission

The transmission harnesses the low-to-mid-range torque and excellent response characteristics of the inline 3-cylinder engine to give riders ideal gearing ratios for any type of riding. The 6-speed transmission also features staggered input and output shafts in a triangular layout, to reduce overall engine size and further centralize mass.

Mass-Centralized 3-into-1 Exhaust System

The NIKEN utilizes a compact three-into-one exhaust system with midship muffler. Not only does this layout centralize mass for sharper handling, the headers feature SixONy™, a hard-wearing ceramic nano-film coating that looks great while resisting both exhaust heat and the elements. Featuring a short, slash-cut exhaust outlet, the NIKEN howls with a sweet 3-cylinder exhaust note, too.

Advanced YCC-T® Engine Control

The ride-by-wire Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) system senses the slightest throttle input by the rider, relays the data to the ECU, which instantaneously calculates the ideal throttle valve opening based on engine rpm and throttle opening, and then sends commands to a servo-motor actuator that moves the throttle valve which actively controls the intake airflow volume. This technology contributes to the rider’s feeling of torque and controllability from the 3-cylinder engine.

Selectable D-MODE

The NIKEN features Yamaha’s D-Mode system to allow the rider to choose the optimum engine character for their riding situation and preferences. The rider can choose from three throttle valve control maps (Standard Mode, “A” Mode, and “B” Mode) for different throttle response characteristics at the push of a button.

Adjustable Traction Control System

A Traction Control System (TCS) assists the rider in managing traction on various road conditions by quickly modulating throttle opening, ignition timing and fuel volume. The NIKEN TCS includes two modes to suit various road conditions, and can also be disabled by the rider if they so choose.


Cruise Control System

The NIKEN includes a cruise control system powered by the YCC-T. Using the left handlebar switchgear, the rider can easily select or adjust a set speed to ease long-distance touring on the highway, improving rider comfort.

Factory Quick Shifter

NIKEN comes standard with Yamaha’s Quick Shift System (QSS), which allows on-throttle upshifting without the clutch, for smooth, fast shifts with minimal loss of drive.

High Tech Instrumentation

A high contrast all-LCD display provides a clear display of engine and road speed, electronic systems such as traction control and D-Mode, fuel range, economy and more.

Class-Defying Leaning Multi-Wheel Chassis

Yamaha’s advanced LMW (Leaning Multi-Wheel) chassis is the result of countless hours of engineering and testing to create a unique motorcycle control system that provides unparalleled rider confidence no matter what the road conditions. With two front tires leaning in unison, the NIKEN doubles the amount of available grip for exceptional stopping power, cornering confidence and rider comfort, especially over uneven pavement and poor road conditions.

Unique Double-Tube/Dual-Axis Steering Design

The radical front end of the NIKEN uses paired fork tubes for each front wheel and steering linkages to provide ideal steering geometry and natural steering feel. The system turns and leans like a conventional motorcycle, but with twice the front tire grip. And, like other Yamaha sportbikes, this system provides adjustable compression and rebound damping for a highly tunable ride.


Compact, Sporty Design

Front wheel track is only 16.1 inches, making NIKEN no wider than traditional motorcycles and ideal for congested, urban riding conditions, with maximum lean angle at an impressive 45 degrees. With a rider aboard, NIKEN offers a perfect 50/50 weight distribution for neutral handling. And the seat design, fuel tank width, and other dimensions are all set to work with the qualities of the compact 3-cylinder engine to achieve a sporty handling character, an upright riding position and a narrow body at the seat/tank junction.

Hybrid Frame Design

Connecting the LMW system to the rear wheel is an all-new hybrid frame that utilizes steel castings and tubes with a lightweight aluminum swingarm pivot area and swingarm. Balanced for rigidity and steering response, the NIKEN chassis provides superb handling and natural steering feel.

Adjustable Horizontal Monocross® Shock

The rear suspension features a linkage-type Monocross® shock, mounted below the seat with an almost horizontal alignment. This unique positioning contributes to mass centralization and a slimmer body design. The rear suspension is also fully adjustable for spring preload as well as compression and rebound damping.

High Performance Tires

NIKEN uses paired 15-inch lightweight alloy wheels with LMW-specific 120/70R15 tires. Developed in concert with the chassis, these tires feature sportbike-style profiles and construction, for high levels of grip, wear resistance and wet-road capability. Out back, the rear wheel mounts a massive 190/55R17 rear tire for a combination of style and traction.

Powerful Triple Disc Brakes with ABS

Mounted outside of each front wheel are disc brakes with four-piston radial calipers, matched to a large rear disc brake, complete with Yamaha's responsive ABS. With paired front tires and the security of ABS, NIKEN riders are able to brake with confidence across a huge range of road conditions.


Aggressive, Mass-Forward Profile

Highlighting the unique LMW system and all-new riding experience, the NIKEN presents a muscular and aggressive appearance unlike anything else on the road today. The front suspension systems are proudly displayed, while the body curves to a graceful and sleek tail section.

LED Lighting

Dual LED headlights present a furious glare at the road ahead, but match style with function, providing a huge spread of crisp illumination for excellent visibility. Position lighting, mirror-mounted turn signals and brake lights likewise use LED technology, for bright, long-lasting performance and modern style.

High Quality Finish

The NIKEN fuel tank is gracefully curved to provide a narrow midsection, and uses the same lightweight alloy found in the YZF-R1® and R6® fuel tanks for reduced weight. Paint and surface finishes are selected to highlight the technical nature of the LMW chassis as well as for long-lasting durability.

Comfortable, Upright Ergonomics

With upright ergonomics and a slightly forward lean, the NIKEN rider is ready to attack corners or cruise down the highway with equal comfort. The tapered aluminum handlebar, placement of the seat and footpegs, and narrow midsection create excellent rider feel. A wide, plush saddle boosts both rider and passenger comfort, too.



Engine Type                847cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder; 12 valves

Bore x Stroke              78.0mm x 59.1mm

Compression Ratio      11.5:1

Fuel Delivery              Fuel injection with YCC-T

Ignition                       TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition

Transmission               6-speed; miltiplate assist and slipper clutch

Final Drive                  Chain



Suspension / Front      TBD

Suspension / Rear        TBD

Brakes / Front             TBD

Brakes / Rear               298mm hydraulic disc; ABS

Tires / Front                 Dual 120/70R15

Tires / Rear                  190/55R17



L x W x H                   TBD

Fuel Capacity              TBD

Seat Height                 TBD

Wheelbase                   TBD

Track                           16.1 in

Rake (Caster)              TBD

Trail                             TBD

Maximum Ground Clearance              5.9 in

Fuel Economy             TBD

Wet Weight                 TBD

Warranty                     TBD


So as you can see not much details about the specifications, the technology and the workings has been revealed by Yamaha. For so many years, Yamaha has been a leader for anyone who likes speed on a motorcycle. Now Niken offers the power along with stability in a never seen before package.

If you remember the old Yamaha advertisements you will recall the two-stroke RD 350 and other racer bikes that went 0 to 100 at the blink of an eye on city streets. Yamaha is living up to its legend as a superior craft of motorcycling. If R1 and R6 haven’t convinced you about the need for speed and the thrill of two wheeled flying on asphalt, then maybe Niken will deliver the best of both worlds of touring and racing to the seat of your pants.

Write to us about the unique trikes and three-wheelers you encounter and send in your own photos, road stories and experiences at wayfarer@bikernet.com and get featured globally as a rider and adventurer.



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Reader Comments

Couple of personal items - marvelous concept but luke warm on it because of the chain - who wants to slop up this piece of art with chain lube not to mention chain maintenance - easily could have been belt driven or even shaft because I don't see young crotch rocket jockeys buying this but older experienced riders looking to do sport cruising and not chain maintenance - also Yamaha really needs to put the effort in developing a nice range of accessories to highlight the sport touring nature of this beast - if they do at least that they may save some support for it

PJ Karavlan
Valencia, PA
Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Editor Response Hi PJ,

Great insight. Thank you sharing. I hope the product teams at Yamaha pay attention to your voice.

Ujjwal Dey
what's the actual point (not marketing) of three wheels if you still need a kickstand?

joe s
griswold, CT
Friday, December 15, 2017
Editor Response Yamaha is not really attempting a traditional trike. They are offering a new adventure with a re-imagination of the thrill of cornering and road-grip. One man's dream ride is another man's nightmare. Innovation is a risk and Yamaha has the deep pockets to innovate and reinvent the wheel.
Ujjwal Dey

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